The Ultimate Guide to Exploring Atlanta

Gene Phillips/Courtesy of ACVB & AtlantaPhotos.com

While many people know Atlanta for its ginormous airport and often-gridlocked traffic, the big city of the South has really been undergoing a mammoth rebirth over the last decade and is worth checking out.

Sure, there is suburban sprawl, but the city has also been focusing on bringing life back to old buildings from a Sears & Roebuck warehouse to a meat packing plant. The crown jewel in the redevelopment is the Atlanta Beltline, a former railroad corridor around the city (inspired by the Highline in NYC), now a multi-use trail for hiking, exploring, and even shopping.

While there is plenty of new to see and do, we had to include some of our classic old school must-visits in Dogwood City.


Courtesy of Jamestown

Ponce City Market

Located in an historic former Sears, Roebuck & Co Distribution center from 1927, Ponce City Market is the areas largest adaptive reuse project and brought the local community buzzing back to life.

Stroll around the nearly 50 shops in and around the building where you can find favorite big brand stores like William Sonoma and J.Crew as well as local treasures.  Cobbler Union is a favorite where you can find bespoke footwear as is Archer Paper Goods because we all love cool desk accessories and stationery.

After your shopping spree, hop in the elevator and head to the rooftop for cocktails at RFD Social. Named after the 1920s radio program, Dinner Bell R.F.D (Radio Farmer’s Democracy), which aired from the tower, the bar serves classic cocktails plus the usual beer and wine. Note: It’s $10 to get onto the roof but there is plenty to do up there from the Skyline Park to the beer garden and restaurant, Nine Mile Station. Plus the views are spectacular.

For dinner, you can head back down to the food hall and try out Sean Brocks’ casual Mexican joint, Minero. The charcoal grilled steak is not to be missed.


Melissa McAlpine/Courtesy of ACVB

The Atlanta BeltLine

Modeled after New York City’s High Line, the BeltLine is a former railway corridor encircling the city. It has become an invaluable way for neighborhoods to connect, locals can bike, walk, and skate to work, and provides a vast amount of green space amidst the urban landscape. The Eastside Trail is the most popular with visitors linking Piedmont Park, Inman Park, and the Old Fourth Ward neighborhoods and runs right by Ponce City Market. Take a stroll and admire the local art and sculptures before dipping into Paris on Ponce, a 46,000-square-foot building stocked with art, antiques, furnishings, and a coffee shop.


Courtesy Sid Mashburn

Westside Provisions District

Originally built in 1917 as Atlanta’s first modern meatpacking plant (hence the pig as their logo), Westside Provisions has been developed into one of Atlanta’s great hubs for fine dining, swanky shopping, and upscale living.

Husband and wife team, Sid and Ann Mashburn, own two of our favorite shops in the district. Both of them cut their teeth in the New York City fashion world and brought their well-trained eye to Atlanta in 2007. Sid offers up everything a gentleman needs in his closet from beautifully tailored Italian suiting to a vast array of shoes and boots. Ann offers a similar classic lineup for women and they both have a sensational home and kids section that will have you browsing and buying for hours. 


Courtesy Little Barn Apothecary

If beauty and grooming are more your thing, check out Little Barn Apothecary. Created in 2015, this skincare line is all natural and handcrafted in Atlanta. Tip: the charcoal and aloe face cleaner is life changing.


Andrew Thomas Lee

For lunch, indulge in Chef Ford Fry’s first restaurant, JCT Kitchen, now an icon in town where craft cocktails are served and the house made bacon mac and cheese is not to be missed.

Across the street from Westside you can enter the design dream world of Dixon Rye, one of Atlanta’s most well curated design stores. Housed in a 1940's former ironworks space, this is a one-stop shop for antiques, candles, vintage furniture, and decadent tabletop accessories.


Courtesy Superica

Krog Street Market

Called one of the ‘Worlds best food halls’ by Travel & Leisure, Krog Street Market is a renovated 1920s potbelly stove and iron-pan factory full of culinary delights from the Tex-Mex at Superica to the new Watchman’s Seafood and Spirits. Just opened in June, the joint is already getting lots of attention for their sustainable seafood (with a focus on the gulf coast), oysters and delicious craft cocktails. Krog Street’s retailers are equally as enticing. Check out the home wares and stationary at The Merchant to rotating book collections at The Read Shop.


Jason Hales

Swan House

If you want to see how old Atlanta lived, visit the famous Swan House, built for the Inman’s by Atlanta’s much loved architect, Philip Trammell Shutze. The home and garden feel more old-world Italy than old South. Plus, lunch at the Swan Coach house is like a Proustian portal into the lives of ladies who lunch.


Gene Phillips/Courtesy of ACVB & AtlantaPhotos.com

High Museum of Art

Founded in 1905, The High has grown from a small town arts association to a world-class museum with 15,000 works of art in its permanent collection as well as one of America’s most impressive collections of nineteenth- and twentieth-century decorative art. Housed in a Richard Meir masterpiece (with a recent addition by Renzo Piano) check out the growing collection of African American art as well as their impressive rotating exhibits.


Steve Grundy/Getty Images

Scott Antiques Market

If you want to know where local interior designers go for their favorite finds, it’s Scotts.  A monthly massive antique fair 20 minutes outside of town, get ready to spend hours drifting through hundreds of stalls selling everything from antiques, vintage clothing, home furnishings, and jewelry.


Courtesy Hotel Clermont

Stay

Hotel Clermont

The legendary Hotel Clermont first opened its doors in 1924 and has been famous less for its hotel and more for the swinging bar in the basement, The Claremont Lounge. All of that changed this year when the hotel went through a major renovation and is now the most happening place to stay in ATL. Offering everything from bunk beds to suites, the Claremont is located in the happening Poncey-Highland neighborhood and the Virginia Highlands shopping area is an easy stroll after breakfast. Be sure to try their restaurant, Tiny Lous offering simple French fare like steak frites and Hudson Valley Snails. The rooftop offers amazing views of Atlanta plus hotdogs and frosé. You may not want to leave.

Stonehurst Place

If you are looking for a quiet, neighborhood-y vibe, the charming little inn, Stonehurst Place is just the ticket.  Built in 1896, by a textile mill magnate, this home is on the National Register and offers only six rooms and suites in the heart of midtown Atlanta.

The Glenn

Built in 1923 by the 31st mayor of Atlanta, The Glenn's building was converted to a hotel in 2006 and is part of Marriot’s Autograph Collection.  Located in downtown Atlanta next to Centennial Olympic Park and CNN Center there are 93 deluxe rooms, 16 suites, and one penthouse, as well as one helluva rooftop bar.